Sunday, January 13, 2008

bottom line, mahavira is a saint

I know you're all on the edge of your seats, waiting to hear how my night with Mahavira's family went. I'll tell you, it went pretty well, but only because they're all really awesome and the human spirit is resilient. One tiny little exchange between me and my boss during the last half-hour of my work day on Friday threw a huge wrench into my self-esteem and set me up for potential failure, but I managed to pull myself together enough to successfully navigate my way through that first family meeting.

The details aren't important, all you need to know is that I was very mildly chastised by my boss at 5pm Friday, thirty minutes before I walked out the door to go to Mahavira's. And, it turns out, I have absolutely zero emotional tolerance for chastisement. I started an immediate downward spiral, which I then vented on Mahavira by *being* the thing that I hate: I "chastised" her, in my own way, by being sarcastic and condescending and it is a miracle that she didn't either 1.) slap me, or 2.) send me home before we ever even left for her brother's house. Sadly, I repeated the bad behavior again yesterday... more than once. Mahavira deserves a medal.

Anyway, after putting up with some of my shit (and very appropriately calling me on it), Mahavira bought me a beer at the Amnesia Brewing Company and we sat outside and drank and I started feeling slightly better, though I was beginning to have a lot of anxiety about meeting her family because I knew I was in a bad emotional space. Once my beer was gone, I had just enough liquid courage to get up and at least try to face the challenge.

It all turned out to be fine. Mahavira's sister-in-law Ivy had definitely acted unilaterally when she demanded we come over. Turns out, Mahavira's brother Billie was having his "dude night" -- where his nerdy male friends come over and play RPGs, this week it was Magic... or is it Magik? or Majik? The house was full of children, Mahavira's two beloved nephews and their cousins. I met children first, then Billie who was very sweet and warm and made sure we each had beers within moments of walking in the door. Then I met Shelle, married to Ivy's brother, who (I learned later) had only come over to check me out. Then I met Tom, one of the "dudes," a man Billie and Mahavira have known for about 20 years. Mahavira informed me on the way over that Tom was the most awesome, perfect man on the planet and that she'd run off with him in a hot minute if he'd leave his wife. Fabulous. He turned out to be cute, smart and really charming, and he went out of his way to be nice to me, which led me to approve of Mahavira's assessment. Finally Ivy surfaced from the kitchen bearing platters of sandwiches which she layed out all over the table and pretty soon the whole chaotic bunch had swarmed into chairs around the table and everyone was eating and talking and it was like business as usual, except that everyone was serruptitiously checking me out and assessing my quality as a potential partner for Mahavira.

Mahavira is an intensely big, powerful person with an enormous personality and, literally, a cult following, an entourage of hangers-on, a fan-club, so it was really interesting for me to see her in such a different role: the role of the little sister, the one getting lectured by her brother about finances, the one being cared for by a slew of middle-aged, middle-class parents of small children who seemed to see her as a gangly, awkward member of their own flock of dependants. And, after her childhood of parental neglect, I know she loves being cared for in this particular way. I watched her eat it up with a spoon. It was good.

That was basically it. The sandwiches were eaten, the men lumbered off to play their nerdy game, the children were stationed in front of a movie in the play room and the "girls" all went outside to sit around a fire in the chiminea and smoke and talk. Mahavira invited the ladies back to her place to smoke weed and in short order we were all relocated back into the familiarity of Mahavira's apartment. So far, my vetting by the family was very subtle. I hadn't yet been grilled (except for the one question Billie asked me: why aren't you practicing law? Good fucking question, Billie...) -- and it kept going like that for a long time. They all chatted and caught up and had a nice time, yet I knew Ivy and Shelle were keeping me in their periphery and taking notes.

Finally Ivy, slightly drunk and slightly high, declared, "Wait! I want to get to know Dawn!" She asked me a couple of questions (where are you from, how long have you been out here, what brought you, etc.) and I answered them eagerly. I love answering questions. But she soon got lost again in chatting with Shelle and before I knew it, I was falling asleep on the couch, wishing they would leave because I was so tired. Shelle, the sober one of the bunch, finally dragged Ivy out the door and I collapsed in a mute heap, the whole weight of the day finally crushing me. Mahavira thought I was mad at her because I curled into a fetal ball and stopped talking. I couldn't make her understand (because I couldn't make myself speak words out loud) that I was not mad at her at all, that I was just completely exhausted and emotionally spent.

We finally made it to the bed and woke around 4am (not unusual for us) and that was my first chance to apologize for disappearing into my fetal caccoon. Poor Mahavira thought I'd hated her family, hated meeting them, hated hanging out with Ivy and Shelle, etc, etc, etc, and it was all I could do to convince her that nothing could be further from the truth. I spent the rest of Saturday in a state of poor mental health, reliving my chastisement and self-flagellating, and occasionally alienating Mahavira by chastising *her* some more. I can be such an insufferable asshole sometimes. I spent the rest of my time apologizing.

Anyway, long story short, and as I said at the very beginning of this adventure: Mahavira is a fucking saint and she deserves nothing but good things in this world because she is nothing but good. After all that drama, all my difficulty and jerk-ness, she drove me all the way out to BEAVERTON (which is a suburb we both LOATHE) so that we could go COSMIC BOWLING with all my old-lady kayaking friends (which is my version of making her hang out with *my* family). She deserves more than a medal. She deserves a national holiday and a street named after her.

In closing, I love Mahavira, I enjoyed meeting her family and I am the luckiest person on the planet because Mahavira still loves me even after this weekend. The end.


Blogger roro said...

Awww! You gotta love a woman who CALLS you on your shit but doesn't leave over it. Huzzah!! Sounds like quite the weekend. And her people sound like real nice folks.

9:45 PM  

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